The Hawaii High School Athletic Association is considering the use of instant replay to help officials in the 2019 state football tournament.
Chris Chun, the HHSAA executive director, will be meeting with the National Federation of High School Associations football rules committee in January to discuss it and seek approval to use instant replay on an experimental basis.
According to Matt Sumstine, who is the coordinator of officials for the state tournament, five states use instant replay for football in some capacity and other states use it for other sports.
Sumstine is a proponent of using instant replay and has requested it for the last three years but did not get approval.
“There’s going to be one call that is too tight to make on the field where the officials don’t have the right angle — that’s going to change a (state tournament) game,” Sumstine said.
“I’ve been the officials coordinator for the last seven years for the HHSAA and we’ve been very fortunate with really good calls made, really tight calls that could have made a difference that we got right. Why replay exists in the NFL and NCAA is because eventually somebody is not going to get the call right. For some, there doesn’t appear to be any urgency for replay in high school here because we’ve been getting it right.”
One part of the replay officials’ job is to call down to the field and offer advice if they feel the officials on the field have made an egregious error — whether it has to do with an actual replay of a play or not.”
Sumstine is aware of a game-changing scenario in a high school championship game on the mainland. As time expired, there was an illegal forward pass for a touchdown. The defensive team accepted the penalty to wipe the points off the board, but the offensive team mistakenly received another play and went on to score and win the game.
“The team was supposed to lose the down and the game was supposed to be over,” Sumstine said. “It was not caught on the field.”
If replay officials were in the booth, it would have provided another asset — a safety net, so to speak — in the effort to get the call correct.
“When will the urgency be big enough to have replay here?” Sumstine said. “We have the ability to use it in all Open Division state tournament games and all state championship games (all at Aloha Stadium, which has a sufficient amount of cameras).”
Sumstine has been part of the Junior Prep Sports’ Paradise Classic youth and high school all-star event that has used replay for a few years. Replay will also be used in the Polynesian Bowl high school all-star game in January.
Sumstine, who lives in Hawaii, is in the replay booth as part of an NFL officiating crew this fall.
“You get on a plane and you land,” he said about the frequent and sometimes long trips. “I see a lot of interesting things every time I watch football. I learn something every time I work a game.”